BERLIN (AP) – German soccer federation president Fritz Keller faces calls to resign after comparing one of his vice presidents to infamous Nazi judge Roland Freisler.
The federation said Sunday that the presidents of its state and regional associations withdrew their confidence in Keller and asked him to step down “to avert further damage to the federation.”
The associations also withdrew their trust in general secretary Friedrich Curtius, who has been involved in a long-standing power struggle with Keller, at their extraordinary conference in Potsdam over the weekend.
The 64-year-old Keller has faced heavy criticism across German sport since comparing vice president Rainer Koch to Freisler at a federation meeting on April 23.
“Such a statement is completely unacceptable and stunned us,” the associations said in the statement published by the federation on Sunday. “It is condemned in the strongest possible terms. The regional and state associations of the DFB stand for a democratic, tolerant and diverse society. The president’s statement is incompatible with the principles and values of the associations.”
Freisler, as a participant in the Wannsee Conference of 1942, was one of the Nazis responsible for the organization of the Holocaust. He became president of the People’s Court, where he issued around 2,600 death sentences to opponents of the Nazi regime.
Koch, who did not accept Keller’s apology, also works as a judge at the higher regional court in Munich.
Keller was appointed head of the federation in September 2019, when he was seen as the best candidate to help it emerge from years of scandal.
Keller’s predecessor, Reinhard Grindel, resigned after accepting a luxury watch amid allegations of undeclared earnings and general discontent with his leadership.
Former federation presidents Wolfgang Niersbach and Theo Zwanziger were both forced out amid allegations of corruption concerning Germany’s 2006 World Cup bid.
Germany is due to host the European Championship in 2024.
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